Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I'll Have a Serving of Grace, Please?

h/t to MadPriest for pointing this out from the Dutch News (emphasis added)
On Sunday, dozens of gay men and women attended mass at the St Jan cathedral in Den Bosch to protest at the local bishop's decision to exclude homosexuals from the ceremony. And many of them left the church is a noisy protest after priest Geertjan van Rossem told the congregation that in order to receive communion people needed to have the 'correct' experience of sexuality.

'Homosexuals are welcome in the church. But we ask practising homosexuals not to take part in communion out of respect for the sacrament,' he said.

The protest follows the refusal of a local priest to give communion to the carnival prince in the nearby small town of Reusel during the pre-Lent celebrations. The decision caused an uproar and led to newspaper Gaykrant urging gay Catholics to head to Reusel en masse and attend church. The refused communion to everyone who attended the service - regulars and newcomers alike.

The part I've bolded is a contradiction. They might as well say, "You're welcome to come, but you need to not stand, sit, or kneel when we do, and you don't need to say the prayers or sing. Actually, we'll build you a balcony. You can come, but you can't participate in the point of the service. Frankly, that's how I feel about going to Mass as a Protestant (and thus why I stopped going so frequently in Troy, particularly when when I heard talk that some people weren't happy about my continued attendance but not seeking to join). You don't invite someone to dinner and not serve them.

Additionally, what does this say about sacramental theology? If the Eucharist is a way that grace is conveyed, why does someone have to be either straight or celibate to receive it? Not that I agree with the idea that queerfolk are disordered, but really, do the healthy (in the church's eyes) need a doctor? That's something I've failed to understand from this mindset. If you think they're wrong, how are they going to get "right" if you shut them out? That goes to any group. And maybe we've forgotten, but Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes. "They're cool now. Thus saith me."

And finally, what's with singling this group out? I mean, really? As someone at MadPriest pointed out, you can't look at someone and tell if they're having sex with someone of the same sex. But that's not the only requirement to receive in the Roman church, from what I recall. When are priests going to start having a sign in during the twenty minutes a week they offer reconciliation, and if you don't make it not serve you the following Sunday? Those who miss on Holy Days of Obligation during the week? Missing Mass then is a mortal sin, but I don't see headlines about priests turning the droves of people who don't come to those days away.

I understand a church having its teaching, regardless of what I think about that teaching. I don't understand it choosing to hit hard on one point and ignore things that actually matter in their theology, like needing to be in a state of grace after having been absolved to receive the eucharist, or in the instance of a protestant denomination, denying someone membership to the local church while ignoring sacramental theologybeing smashed to pieces around the jurisdiction.

We all come to the table as broken-being-healed sinners being redeemed, all of us in need of grace. I think Jesus said something about people who are eligible to throw stones. The church has a role in our lives. We certainly need the church to teach us and to guide us as we are made more perfect through this life into the next. I don't, however, need the church to restrict those who are eligible to receive outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual graces. The people the church wants to (at least in theory) bring into the Kin-dom of God are going to be less and less tolerant of it throwing stones from its glass houses as abuses continue to be covered up the world over and the Church doesn't really try to rectify the situation or find real reconciliation.

Helping of grace, anyone?


  1. So you wouldn't mind seeing a Mafioso's funeral in church and his cronies coming to communion?

  2. John, thanks.

    Brian, absolutely. The focal point of Christianity is that we're given grace freely, not because of anything we've done or haven't done. That we can save ourselves is heresy. And I'd rather not qualify "well, this person who violates church teaching can still receive (divorced and re-married), but this person (mafioso) can't."